On October 14, 2016, a medically retired combat veteran was initially ignored by staff at the Chillicothe Veteran Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Athens, Ohio when he requested that a copy of the Bible be removed from the mental health waiting room. After requesting assistance from MRFF, Mikey Weinstein contacted the facility administrators demanding removal of the New Testament Bible from the waiting area. Within 3 hours, MRFF received confirmation from facility administrators that the sectarian religious text had been removed and that they “routinely have environment of care rounding teams that look for such material”. Mikey commends the quick response by the facility’s administration. MRFF’s client who brought this matter to our attention expressed his appreciation for MRFF’s assistance:
Thank you for advocating on my behalf regarding the Bible in the Athens, OH VA and getting it removed in just a few hours. It may seem like a small thing to some, but to myself and other veterans here who were trained to pay attention to detail and do the right thing, it is greatly appreciated. We live in times where the concept of religion being involved in government has been reintroduced as an option by many politicians. This basic constitutional concept that there should be a separation of church and state is something that we can no longer take for granted. As a combat veteran who fought personally to defend constitutional freedoms, this is important to me and I know it is important to many of my fellow veterans and soldiers as well. I am glad the MRFF has become a champion of this cause- many soldiers and veterans alike may need an outside advocate to approach an issue like this, whether it’s a bible in the waiting room or a plaque of the 10 commandments in a superior’s office. Many of those soldiers and veterans may not know who to go to if they run into a problem like I did, and I hope they can take this example and know the MRFF is there to support them.